The Christian Science Monitor

Studying the changes in how we speak

A harbor in Martha's Vineyard is seen in this undated file photo. In 1961, linguist William Labov noticed something happening with the English spoken on Martha’s Vineyard, especially among young men in traditional occupations such as fishing.

In 1961, linguist William Labov noticed something happening with the English spoken on Martha’s Vineyard. A sound change was in progress: some younger residents were reverting to older, “closed-mouth” ways of pronouncing certain vowels (“seund” and “beut” for “sound”

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